A Tokyo-based nonprofit organization fighting matahara, workplace discrimination against pregnant women and the intimidation of those trying for a child, is seeking revisions to the child care leave law on the grounds that it discriminates against nonregular workers.
Matahara Net on Thursday submitted a petition signed by 7,058 people to a meeting of the Labor Policy Council, a panel convened by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. It collected the signatures online over 15 days from Oct. 1 through Thursday.
The group said employers often use the Law for Childcare and the Family Leave Law to deny child care leave, in which workers can take up to a year off after giving birth, to nonregular workers, which results in them leaving the workforce.
Under the law, a worker must be employed by one company for a year or more to qualify for child care leave. The worker must also be expected to remain in their role after their child turns 1 and unlikely to lose their employment contract before the child turns 2.
The number of nonregular workers is on the rise and accounts for nearly 40 percent of the workforce and 60 percent of all female workers in 2014, according to the internal affairs ministry. The group includes part-timers, contract workers and those dispatched by employment agencies.
Only 4 percent of women in nonregular jobs have been able to take child care leave and get back to work afterward, according to 2010 statistics by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.
“The conditions are not transparent or clear enough, because they concern uncertain scenarios in the future,” said Sayaka Osakabe, founder of Matahara Net. Osakabe was commended by the U.S. State Department in March for her activism against matahara.
“We want those conditions scrapped, so that the miserable 4 percent figure will be improved.”